I am leaving club football…
By Alexander Viola, an ex-Internazionale fan
This will be my first and only ever blog post because I have found myself over the last few years spending 95 per cent of my time reading about football rather than watching it. This is because what used to happen off the field was interesting; whether your club buys the right players, builds a new stadium, negotiates good transfer fees, and finds the correct coach were the determinants of long term success. If you club was not currently competitive, these little battles were more important than the weekly three points.
This was before financial fair play; a system designed to entrench the oligopoly that is modern club football. When a club as big as Inter needs to sell their most promising player, Mateo Kovacic, a young man I have had the pleasure of watching develop and represented our future in order to balance the books you soon realise that almost every club is now a selling club. Liverpool is still statistically the most successful club in England but did not sell out to a rich enough owner in time to make the ludicrous spending decisions that typified the Premier League after the turn of the Century, also had to sell their best player this summer. Manchester City and PSG got in just in time that they now have the commercial exposure to generate revenue to continue spending into perpetuity.
I knew this reality, however, it did not hit me emotionally until Inter sold Kovacic, who didn’t want to leave and is a player that no one has even heard of in Madrid. My heart is broken, I feel like my girlfriend left me for a rich guy because I couldn’t provide for her. The greatest thing about following a club is watching your young players develop into icons and following them on their journey.
I feel like I can never invest again in any new kids or players knowing how easily my heart can be ripped out of me. I know this has been happening to smaller clubs long before FFP (my condolences to the “farm” that has become of a great club like Ajax who can be outspent by Stoke) and of course, the big players have always been moving to the big clubs. However, there is something different this time; it seems so systematic. It seems so hopeless. Club football is now 100% a business, where your success is almost exclusively dictated by either your past business decisions (or oil investments) or whether your club is part of a country that speaks a major world language and is therefore easier to market.
There is no longer room to move, income and wealth inequality is now entrenched and even fans talk about club success in terms of finances because that is what matters. But I am sorry, I can no longer be a part of it. I will see you at the Euros but for now this is goodbye.
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Originally published at fanvox.net on August 17, 2015.